I woke up to grey skies, low clouds, and a not insignificant ocean swell. Fortunately, it takes quite a lot to make me seasick!
Arsuk with Sarfaq Ittuk
Our first port for the day was the small settlement of Arsuk – population 77 (1 Jul 2019).
Our scheduled docking time here was 15 minutes, and it says a lot about the efficiency of the staff on Sarfaq Ittuk that they can normally complete the transfer of passengers in this amount of time. The harbour is too small for the ferry to enter so they must:
- Crane a zodiac off the top of the ship
- Load the passengers and gear that needs to be transported to the settlement
- Run the transfer to the harbour
- Offload the departing passengers etc and collect those who will join the ferry
- Run the return transfer
- Offload the passengers and gear to Sarfaq Ittuk
- Crane the zodiac back to the top of the ship and secure it
All in 15 minutes!
Ours was a very special port call as we had a large group of Danish ex-Navy on board who were in Greenland to visit the old bases they used to work at after more than 30 years.
It took 3 full shuttles and 45 minutes to complete the transfer, during which time I had plenty of opportunity to take in the surroundings.
Once we hoisted anchor again – my daily routine of rotating between my cabin, Café Sarfaq, the aft lounge, and hanging out on one of the outside decks to enjoy the scenery began.
Others chose to take a book up on deck to help pass the time – returning to the warm comfort of the ship when the cold became too much.
Stopping in Paamiut on Sarfaq Ittuk
Despite leaving Arsuk 30 minutes late, we reached the next port of Paamiut right on time at 14:00. There is a significant amount of slack built into the schedule for the Sarfaq Ittuk ferry to accommodate the possibility of bad weather and other unexpected events.
The weather had cleared up significantly by the time we arrived, sailing into the harbour past the wreck of an old fishing trawler.
We had a 30 minute stop in Paamiut – population 1326. A small crowd was there to greet the ferry
and I calculated that I had just enough time for a quick sprint to see its ornate church and duck into the supermarket for a packet of chips, before I had to be back on board or be left behind.
Fortunately, my calculation proved correct 😀
North to Qeqertarsuatsiaat on Sarfaq Ittuk
It was a long stretch between Paamiut and our next settlement: Qeqertarsuatsiaat, which we would reach at 22:15pm. I had studied the maps in the corridors of the ship (and on Maps.Me) and discovered that we would pass an area where the great Greenland Ice Sheet reached almost to the ocean.
I was super-keen to see that, so I hung out up on deck chatting with whoever I could find. Most of the passengers on this part of the Sarfaq Ittuk journey (South of Sisimiut) were local Greenlanders. I tried out my conversation skills in Greenlandic (yes, I can say a few things – much to their surprise) before switching to English for the rest of the conversation. It never ceases to amaze me how many Greenlanders (particularly on the West coast) speak excellent English. For many of them, it is their third language behind Greenlandic and Danish.
Unfortunately, we were quite a long way out from shore and the light was not great when we finally sailed past the Ice Sheet (Frederikshabs Glacier). Indeed, it did almost reach the ocean and I would have *loved* to have been closer in to see it more clearly.
Determined not to miss a single call at port, I was out on the upper deck at 22:15pm for our arrival into Qeqertarsuatsiaat – another 15-minute stop. It was surprising to see the number of people who turned out to greet the ferry in the dark and the cold from this settlement of only 185 people!
Read more about the Sarfaq Ituuk journey
If this post has piqued your curiosity about travelling with Sarfaq Ittuk in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure:
- Day 1 – Welcome Aboard in Qaqortoq
- Day 2 – Sailing along the south-west coast
- Day 3 – Nuuk
- Day 4 – Maniitsoq to Sisimiut
- Day 5 – Aasiaat to Ilulissat